Council fires BTV director Gene Richards: ‘I am truly sorry for any offensive behavior’

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After a 6 hour hearing and a 10-1 vote, Gene Richards is out as aviation of Burlington International Airport.

During Thursday night’s special termination hearing, the city attorney laid out a presentation alleging Richards barked orders at airport employees and often swore at them.

“Laying into employees and ripping them a new one when he disagrees or doesn’t like something, screaming at employees that they don’t know what they’re doing.”

According to findings in the independent report, Richards was using the airport’s gas facility to fill up his personal car nearly 60 times.

“I am truly sorry for any offensive behavior,” Richards said. “Whatever happens, please know I have learned from my experience and I am disappointed in my actions that have cast a negative light on the airport.”

Mayor Miro Weinberger asked Richards to step down last month. He says despite his successes, and handling of the airport during the pandemic, Richards is no longer in a position to serve the airport’s top role.

“The actions and repeated lapses of judgment documented in Anita Tinney’s memo are inconsistent with the shared values of collaboration, belonging, and respect that I expect our department heads to demonstrate and that are reflected in our personnel policies as demonstrated.”

Both Richards and his attorney agree the odds were against them going into the hearing, but were thankful for a chance to clear his name.

“Most important I think was for Gene to retrieve his reputation,” Richard Cassidy said. “The idea that maybe Gene did some awful terrible thing, is laid to rest by the little evidence the city put on.”

Richards claims the entire process was unfair. He says the mayor asked him to resign without fully understanding the allegations against him.

“The process that I wanted, I was able to have,” Gene Richards said. “It’s one that I wasn’t able to have with the mayor’s system. I was pleased I was able to have my time and get some answers to some questions. It shouldn’t be that difficult.”

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